Makes it sound like a chocolate bar advert, doesn’t it? Well, as of this month I am officially no longer 23 (thank goodness!) and I’ve welcomed the meaningful maturity that comes with being one year shy of a quarter century.
I’m not going to bore you with a long-winded account of my celebrations (which involved a romantic walk, a meal, a visit with family, a 2-hour car journey, and a chocolate cake) or a long-winded list of presents (money from family, some cosmetics and chocolate from my cousin, a Professor Layton game from my best friend and a bunch of things from my partner of which I’ll just post pictures at the end).
What I will do is spend a few minutes reflecting on what being a 24-year-old means to me. Firstly, it’s great. I remember being 19, 20, 21… and having friends aged 24/25 complaining about how old they felt. Do I feel old? I suppose being in a building where around half of the 30 residents seem to be aged 19, it has occurred to me that I’m not going to fit into the same culture of drinking and late nights and rule-pushing adventures they seem to enjoy. But I don’t feel old – I feel like they’re young! And I know that sounds the same, but believe me it’s not.
I still go out drinking with my boyfriend sometimes, and on occasion I toy mildly with the restrictions I live in. I stay up late playing games or reading books – my latest conquest being Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol at 6:30 in the morning when I got so invested I couldn’t put it down. Doing things like that every now and again make me feel more spirited and alive. But it’s all done with the greatest respect for others, and for myself. I try to look after my health and well-being much more than I used to, and more than I see younger people than myself doing. I guess that comes with age – but again, seeing the immaturity (and that’s a compliment, not an insult – youthful recklessness and naivety is a gift) of others around the ages of 18-21 makes me feel wonderfully nostalgic.
I was once that daft and impulsive. I still am, but with every passing year I feel my exploits take on insight and wisdom. It’s like climbing. When you’re a child, you’ll climb a tree. Recklessly at first – you think you’re indestructible – but as years pass you climb higher and with greater care and confidence. One day, you find yourself too heavy for those upper branches. So it’s walls and rocky outcrops you’re left with, pushing the adrenaline further by jumping off at height if you dare. Many of those aged 16-18, and some older, are at that stage. Seeking a rush by throwing themselves forward or climbing higher in life perhaps faster or further than they should, not worrying about the consequences should they slip and fall or get ahead of themselves. And yes, age is about parachutes and safety harnesses, even so young as I am. But that IS what I am – young! So much so that I can sky dive if I want to, or use those ropes to climb mountains. And I have a lifetime to do it in.
I celebrate every year I live for the year it is, then look back fondly as I tackle the next one. I’ve nothing to stop me but myself.
It’s been a great birthday and a great year. Here’s to the next 12 months and more of the same.
And, as promised… Pictures!